Morning folks and happy Saturday to you and yours. We’ve got a little bit of waiting to be done until we play again on Sunday night in a ridiculous pay-per-view game against Leicester but with both teams playing on Thursday evening this was always going to be a Sunday game and so it means Saturday’s need to be filled with something else. That’ll probably be watching our rivals this weekend because I’ve already watched the video on the official website where Mikel talks about the game on Thursday and also the match this weekend.
He obviously spoke about the character of the team and how coming from behind will stand them in good stead, but what I didn’t realise that Mikel was also quick ton pick up on from Thursday, was apparently how the team rallied around Bernd Leno when he made a mistake. Mikel spoke of how the players got behind him and hopefully that will ensure that we don’t see his confidence take a hit. ‘Keepers without confidence is not a good blend and whilst I don’t think Bernd is the sort of person who will get phased by that kind of situation of his own making on Thursday night, I think he’s big enough and old enough to move on and hopefully provide a more assure performance against Leicester tomorrow evening.
It also speaks to how Mikel is trying to foster this unity in the team. Winning helps and certainly winning cups is a big boost too, but it does feel like the players are a little more unified than, say, a year or two ago. There feels like there’s more camaraderie in the side and that can only be a good thing.
The other good thing that I’ve heard a lot about in the last week or so is that word “spine” and after an impressive debut by Partey and Gabriel’s successful start to life at The Arsenal. He’s been brilliant in my opinion. He always looks very chilled on and off of the ball, he doesn’t go to ground early and I’m loving how many times I’m hearing “good header away by Gabriel” during each game. He is a unit built for the Premier League and hopefully he can go on to have a long and successful career at The Arsenal, but first and foremost he’s a guy who has started his life well and Mikel seems very impressed too. He spoke about not knowing how he’d adapt coming from the French league where he has to start learning a new language and way of life and whilst I don’t know what his life is like off the pitch or how stable that is, on the pitch he looks as comfortable as I’ve seen from a centre half. That can only be a good thing longer term and for his settling in.
It does feel as though we are building that solid base running through the team with Mikel admitting that we are getting closer to the type of team he wants to have.
And I think this is an important point actually. We’ve already had injuries in the side, we’ve seen players go down before the season had already started and with the COVID situation we haven’t been able to move players on and bring all of the players in that we wanted. But in Partey and Gabriel it looks as though we’ve made two very astute buys. But we still need to find that balance and here we are going in to the sixth game of the season and we still haven’t been able to get that full team that looks like Mikel’s best.
We might get close to that on Sunday depending on how many players come through the ‘knocks and niggles’ that Arteta mentioned and of course he also cited how Ceballos and Willian hadn’t trained for a couple of days. Hopefully they get some training minutes today ahead of the game and we can see a fuller compliment of players at the managers disposal against a team with whom he admitted are going to be a very tough opponent to crack. That’s going to be doubly so given that Vardy is back and fit and he seems to score every time he plays us, so we might end up needing at least two in the game tomorrow evening as it is!
It’s a short one from me today because there isn’t too much else going on. So I’ll catch you tomorrow with a match preview.